UK firm Peratech has announced a collaboration with the London College of Fashion to develop wearable electronics that utilise the company's Quantum Tunnelling Composites (QTC) sensors.
The aim of the three year initiative is to create clothes that can monitor vital signs for illness and warn of exposure to dangerous chemicals. "We are very excited to be involved in this project," said Peratech's cto David Lussey. "Our QTC materials have already been used to provide switches in clothing for a number of years and so we know that it can withstand the rigors of being worn and washed. "This project combines technology, design and user needs to work out how this growing area of wearable technology can be developed." Peratech's QTC materials, which won the company a Judges' Special Award at the 2011 British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEAs), are designed to change their resistance when a force is applied such as pressure. Printing QTC inks on to textiles enables simple on/off switches to be created but, because the resistance changes proportionally to the amount of force applied, areas of the cloth can become touch sensitive or can be made to recognise pressure inputs. "There are already glasses that provide computer displays," explained Lussey, "but they lack a simple way to input and interact with them. With our technology, you could print a keyboard onto a sleeve or onto the back of a glove and link it via Bluetooth to the glasses." Lussye continued: "What is exciting is that the ability to print active and passive components is really taking off. This combined with our QTC technology means that everything needed to print complete electronic circuits can be done at the same time directly onto flexible substrates such as films, papers and textiles."